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20th April 2020 • Emma Cooper

A major new package to support vulnerable and disadvantaged young people with their online learning has just been launched.

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced over the weekend that laptops and tablets will be available for disadvantaged children across England as part of a push to make remote education accessible for pupils staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Devices will be ordered for children in the most vital stages of their education, those who receive support from a social worker and care leavers.

The government will also provide 4G routers to make sure disadvantaged secondary school pupils and care leavers can access the internet – where those families do not already have mobile or broadband internet in the household.

The country’s major telecommunications providers will make it easier for families to access selected educational resources by temporarily exempting these sites from data charges.

Oak National Academy

In addition to the support package, a new enterprise has also launched, created by 40 teachers from schools across England and backed by government funding in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Oak National Academy will provide 180 video lessons each week, across a broad range of subjects from maths to art to languages, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10. There will be video lessons, quizzes and worksheets available to download. Whilst the enterprise has been created to assist teachers still working to support their pupils, there is also information on the website about how parents can use the resources to aid home schooling and online learning.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

‘I want to thank all the teachers and staff who are working so hard to ensure vulnerable children and those of critical workers are supported at this time.

‘Schools will remain closed until the scientific advice changes, which is why we need to support the incredible work teachers are already doing to ensure children continue to receive the education they deserve and need.

‘By providing young people with these laptops and tablets and enabling schools to access high quality support, we will enable all children to continue learning now and in the years to come. We hope this support will take some of the pressure off both parents and schools by providing more materials for them to use.’

These new initiatives have been launched alongside new guidance for parents on how best to support their child’s education and development whilst at home.